Hello! If you're just tuning in or need a refresher, it's marching band season and Summer (drumline) has a crush on Micah (drum major), but she was too anxious to talk to him or tell her friends about it. She made a profile on Chat With Me (you can only talk to people at your school and the conversations can't be tracked) and they've been talking (except Summer is pretending to be someone named Anna). They grew close, Summer finally came clean, and Micah wasn't exactly thrilled. Summer just found out that word has spread and the entire band knows what she did.
This is draft 2, and I'm more interested in big picture comments than sentence level/grammar comments. Thanks for reading! <3
PS - sorry this one is long!! There wasn't a good place to cut it in half...
When Monday morning rolls around I expect nothing less than for it to be 100% terrible. But I know May was right about one thing at least, as much as I want to skip, I know that if don’t go today I may never come back again.
My stomach is clenched and the meager breakfast I choked down this morning churns against the edges of the hole I’m sure my stomach created over the weekend.
I really did practice smiling with my head held high after I got off the phone with May. But on my way to school, I worry that if I walk into the band room like that, I’ll look conceited and the whispering will only get worse.
Should I look happy after what I did to Micah? I feel like I should look repentant, because I am repentant. I don’t want anyone, especially Micah, to think I’m somehow proud of what I did, or that I’m happy about any of it, because I’m definitely not.
I didn’t fill my parents in on the situation over the weekend. I couldn’t stand the shame. So my poor dad has no idea that the very last thing I want to do this morning is get out of his car and walk inside. But it’s too late to convey that to him, so I have no choice.
I try to slink right to the back so I can hide behind my drum and pretend no one can see me. But I swear every single head turns my way as soon as I walk in the door. My face burns red. So much for walking in confident with my head held high.
Kaila the whistle-blower is already standing by her locker with another girl on the drumline. I was dreading seeing her almost as much as I was dreading seeing Micah. I might as well hand her the section leader position now. I’m effectively done in this band.
When I approach, Kaila glances at me and then tells the other girl, “we’ll talk about it later.” Which means they were definitely talking about me.
What would May do? May would immediately confront Kaila and make sure the whole band hears that she doesn’t appreciate how Kaila is spreading rumors about her.
I’m not May. So I ignore her and pretend I didn’t see or hear anything and instead try to focus on getting my locker to open.
Maybe if I ignore everyone today and don’t say a single word to anyone outside of Bryn, Katya, and maybe Camilla, I’ll survive. I’ll plead the fifth and say no comment if anyone asks me about it. I’ll somehow manage to pretend that Micah and Kaila aren’t even in the room. I’ll hope that Bryn and Katya will continue to blindly support me.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell them the truth about everything after I talked to May, but I know I need to tell them soon. I owe it to them, and it’s about time I was honest with them for a change.
I set up in the back with my security blanket snare drum strapped in front of me and pretend no one can see me. I pretend I don’t hear anyone whispering. I pretend not to notice Micah coming in the room and looking absolutely everywhere but towards me.
My gut twists. This is worse than I imagined it would be. I’m not quite sure what I imagined, I knew he wasn’t going to say anything to me or acknowledge me. Don’t ever talk to me or message me again. I knew people would be talking. I guess what I didn’t anticipate was how it would all make me feel.
I’m living my nightmare. All because I wanted to get to know Micah. All because Micah and I had a connection. All because I was Anna instead of Summer.
Why did I ever have to be Anna?
By some stroke of luck, a thunderstorm picks up right around dismissal time, effectively canceling our after school rehearsal. I could sing.
I don’t know if I would have made it through three hours of being forced to see Micah and Kaila.
Bryn finds me at my band locker after school. I want to get in and get out before Micah shows up. “Tell your dad I’m taking you home. Me, you, and Katya are hanging out. No exceptions.”
“Okay,” I say robotically. Great. The opportunity to tell my friends the truth just materialized in front of my eyes.
I grab my bag and follow Bryn outside where Katya is already waiting. There’s a steady downpour of rain, but that doesn’t stop us from sprinting to Bryn’s car. We crash inside, our soaked through shoes squishing on her floor mats, gasping for air.
“So where are we going?” I ask, moving the wet hair from my face.
“Do you want to just go to my house? We can dry off there at least,” Bryn suggests.
“Works for me,” Katya says. No one mentions that Camilla isn’t here and why that is.
Bryn cranks the air to help us dry off as she navigates all of the congested roads around the school and into her housing edition. She’s able to park in the garage, and the three of us leave our soaked socks and shoes in the family mud room to avoid messing up the house.
The three of us each cuddle up in a blanket and sit in the living room. The rain pounding against the windows all around us creates an ominous tone for what I’m about to do.
“Okay,” Katya says. “I told Bryn the three of us need to talk after school, without Camilla because we were all in that group chat. What is going on Summer? We support you, we just want to understand.”
I’m almost glad we’re getting it out of the way now. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to bring it up myself.
“Well,” I focus on a string on the blanket I’m cocooned in. “There are a lot of things I haven’t told you guys about. I’m sorry I’ve been such a crappy friend. It’s nothing against you guys. I just…” I take a deep breathe. Where do I even begin? There’s so much they don’t know because I haven’t told them. I’m thankful that they don’t say anything. If Camilla were here, she never would have been able to do this.
“I get really nervous about stuff and I worry a lot about what people think about me. Even though you guys are my friends, even telling you that I worry about stuff right now makes me worry about what you think of me.” Which is hard to admit. There’s no instant relief telling them this one little truth about myself. The hole my stomach chewed through itself tries to gain more ground.
Bryn, next to me on the couch, puts her hand on my back I guess as a sign of comfort. I’m glad they didn’t both rush in and affirm that they love me no matter what and of course they don’t see me any differently or think bad of me. I wouldn’t have believed them anyway.
“That’s why I don’t tell you guys very much about myself or who I like or whatever, because I can’t stand the thought of what people think of me. I know it’s stupid because you guys are my friends, but that doesn’t make me any less nervous.” I rub the skin around my thumb. “Over the summer I got this little crush on Micah, but I didn’t know how to say anything about it because I didn’t know what you guys would say about it or think about him, and I didn’t want anyone’s opinions to tarnish my feelings for him.”
“For the record,” Bryn says. “We think Micah is awesome and you guys would be super cute together.”
Katya nods. “Micah is awesome.”
I know. And it just goes to show that maybe him and I could have been something really great had I not managed to mess every single thing up.
I let out a breath. “I wanted to talk to him and get to know him and everything, but I didn’t know how and I didn’t want people to see me trying to talk to him and speculate what was going on and then have everyone’s opinions about whether we’re compatible or whether I was crazy for even trying to talk to him in the first place.”
“You just majorly psyched yourself out.” Katya says simply.
I nod. “And then when Camilla told us about the Chat With Me app so she could talk to Fernando without her parents finding out, I thought that could be an easy way for Micah and I to get to know one another without the pressure of everyone’s opinion. But, I was scared to use my real name because if he didn’t have any interest in me, I didn’t want him to think I was a loser or something and then have to face him in the band room the next day. So I changed my name to Anna Blackwell and sent him a chat request. He messaged me the next day asking who I was and we got to talking and then we kept talking and now we’re here.”
There’s a clap of thunder.
“I swear I wasn’t trying to be shady or weird. I was truly just trying to get to know him. I didn’t have a plan or an end game. I had no clue how I was going to transition from Anna to Summer. I just really loved talking to him. It was so easy. We connected on a really personal level, and the longer it went on the more guilty I felt because he didn’t know who I was. I was hoping that we had built up enough of a connection that he would be understanding and that he could look past the Anna stuff, but that obviously didn’t happen. That’s it. That’s the story.”
I don’t feel any better after telling the whole story. I thought that maybe my stomach would stop chewing its hole and maybe my lungs would be capable of fully inflating, but I feel just as useless and terrible as I did before I told them.
“I get why you did it,” Bryn says. “What I don’t get, is how Kaila found out and why she decided to tell everyone.”
I don’t want to think about that part, that it’s possible that he would share this secret, even though I know he had to have. No one else knew and there’s no other way the information could have gotten out.
“Well we all know Kaila isn’t the most thoughtful person in the world.” Katya scowls. “Micah must have told her and then she obviously thought this would be some big way for her to get attention for something that has nothing to do with her.”
“Are you mad I didn’t tell you?” I ask them both. Despite their support so far, I can’t discount the fact that underneath they’re probably annoyed with me.
Bryn shakes her head and Katya shrugs. “I get wanting to keep something like that a secret. Not that we would have judged you or anything for wanting to talk to him. Well, B and I wouldn’t have.” She cracks a smile.
“For sure!” Bryn agrees.
“And sometimes it’s nice to keep relationship stuff private,” Katya adds. “Like for example, I’ve been hanging out with Ethan and it’s been going well, but I didn’t want to tell anyone about it until we knew whether or not it was going to be something.” She says it as casually as if she were telling us about something mundane like the weather.
I turn to Bryn, jaw dropped.
She squeals. “I wondered if there was something going on with you two! The way he’s always trying to come over and talk to you.”
“I know, he’s so annoying.” Katya smiles.
“I’m so happy for you!” I smile. Katya has always been so picky with relationships. Her parents had a messy divorce when she was ten, and her dad hasn’t really been around since.
“Thanks guys.” Now that she’s gotten it out, she can’t get the smile off her face. “But this is about Summer, not me, so.”
“No, no,” I say, happy to deflect off of me. “We can talk about you. Happy relationship trumps stupid mistake any day.”
“Well, as you know, Ethan and Micah are friends.”
My stomach churns, aggravating the soon to be hole in my stomach. I guess this is when I get to hear about all of the insider knowledge straight from the source about how much I screwed up and what a loser I am.
“Ethan was surprised to hear Micah had been talking to some ‘mystery woman’, his words.” She cracks another smile. “Apparently Micah hadn’t said anything about talking to ‘Anna’ while you guys were talking.”
I’m surprised that it doesn’t hurt. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he wasn’t having sleepovers with his guy friends telling them all about this interesting new girl he was talking to from school.
“But I wouldn’t read into that.” Bryn says. “It’s not like guys are known for sitting around and talking about their feelings with one another.”
“Yeah, Ethan didn’t tell Micah that he was talking to me either,” Katya says. “But, he did tell me that Micah isn’t the kind of guy who holds a grudge. He’s usually a pretty reasonable, easy-going person.”
“Okay, but he told me to never talk to him or message him again.” I don’t think everyone is fully grasping the finality of what he said to me. I already know I can’t redeem myself at this point. I wish everyone would stop talking about it so some of the awkwardness will go away, but that’s probably too much to ask for.
“I have a feeling he’ll regret saying that once all of the dust settles,” Bryn says.
“That’s what May said.”
“Don’t give up hope entirely. You guys had a connection. Believe in that.”
“Yeah,” Katya says. “And if he’s too thick-headed to forgive you or at the very least hear you out, hen we’ll help you move on and help the real Summer get to know someone else.”
I choke out a laugh. I know for sure that should Micah not forgive me, I’m not holding my breath no matter what anyone says, the next time I’m ready to get to know someone I like, I’m going to be Summer and not anyone else.
“And while we’re all confessing things,” Bryn says. I hold my breath. “I think I’m done trying with Jamie.”
I feel bad feeling happy, but this is probably the best thing that could have come out of that situation.
Katya lifts an eyebrow. “And how did you decide this?”
Bryn sighs. “I’m tired of the runaround. I don’t want to play the he’s nice and I have hope and then he’s with someone else game anymore. I need to accept that the Jamie I fell in love with isn’t the Jamie I know now and it’s not worth it to keep fighting that. It’s just going to keep hurting me in the end.”
Katya gives her a high five. “You know it.”
“I think the sooner I accept that it’s not going to magically change and he’s not going to come back and be the person I need him to be, the better. Not that this is a pill I wanted to swallow.”
“We’ll help you stay strong, and we’ll cheer for you when you find someone better.”
“Thanks.” She smiles.
“I may not be the best source of advice for finding your next match, considering I basically just catfished someone, but you know I’ll support you in whatever you do,” I add. “And you’re totally right, you can do better than Jamie.”
Everything is normal. I explained the situation and the world is still spinning and I still have two friends. And whether or not Micah forgives me, at least I have them. And maybe, now that I’ve done it once and the world didn’t stop, the next time something comes up with a guy, I’ll be able to talk to them about it first before I make a dumb mistake all over again.
Welcome to Chat With Me!
Wednesday, 08:09PM - You’re chatting with: MICAH TURNER.
Summer (08:09PM): Me again. Here’s the entire truth:
Summer (08:12PM): The first time we talked I said I was a transfer. Obviously that wasn’t true, I started as a freshman. But, I did transfer in as a freshman because I was bullied in middle school after I got diagnosed with alopecia and I wantedfresh start. I said I play clarinet, you know I play drums. Pocahontas really is my favorite Disney movie. I used to sing Reflection at the top of my lungs daily when I was a child.
Summer (08:14PM): The second time we talked I said I said we don’t have the same lunch hour, we do. But I really do want to be a medical researcher and study alopecia. Science really is my favorite subject, and I really do read scientific articles in my free time for fun. On our third chat I told you about my friend who was having trouble with her relationship. She really was having trouble (your analysis was right). They’re not together anymore.
Summer (08:18PM): The fifth time we talked I told you about my sister going to college. That was about May. I really do miss her a ton. I really do have alopecia. I’ll even send you a picture to prove it.
Summer (08:21PM): I honestly have never had a boyfriend (shocking I’m sure…) and I really am a naturally nervous/anxious person (hence why I never gathered the guts to talk to you for real…)
Summer (08:24PM): I’ll stop there. I don’t want to bother you (probably already have…) The point is, I PROMISE you. Even when I lied about things, for all of the important things, I was 100% myself. The person you got to know and the person you were talking to was me. It wasn’t a character I made up, it was me. I wish I could go back and do this all differently because I feel so terrible for betraying your trust the way I did and for messing up what could have been something cool. I’m so sorry, and I hope you give me the chance to apologize to you in person someday because I genuinely did not want to hurt you or want things to end up this way.
Summer (08:25PM): [Attaches a picture showing her profile without a wig on.]